Pujols latest free agent to meet with Marlins
Busy week includes visits from lefty Buehrle, shortstop Reyes
MIAMI -- The Marlins spent the week entertaining high-profile free agents, showing them the sizzle of the club's new stadium while allowing them to soak in the South Florida sunshine.
Albert Pujols, the top free agent on the market, is the latest big name to see the new ballpark.
The slugger was in town on Friday, meeting with the Marlins while getting a tour of the 37,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark.
"He's terrific. He loved the stadium," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. "He liked being here."
Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, spent most of the afternoon with team officials, and left town on Friday night.
The Marlins are not confirming if any contract offers have been made, but there is speculation the club made preliminary offers to Pujols, shortstop Jose Reyes and left-hander Mark Buehrle.
"Whether any offers have been made or not made to free agents, we have no comment," Marlins president David Samson said.
If offers had been made, could the Marlins take on the enormous salaries of Buehrle, Reyes and Pujols?
"What our job is, is to build a team with contingency plans," Samson said. "We're being very aggressive with free agents who we think can help the team. We have a first choice. We have a 1 A. We have a 1 B. What we have done is taken the time in a very organized way. We knew this going into the offseason on what we were going to do."
The Marlins met on Tuesday with Buehrle, and Reyes was in town on Wednesday, setting the stage for Pujols' arrival on Friday.
"This week did not happen by accident," Samson said. "We knew exactly who we wanted to see and when we wanted to see them, and we're planning from there."
Marlins officials also met for several hours with Yoenis Cespedes on Thursday, and the team continues to evaluate whether the Cuban-born center fielder is a fit for its organization.
The Marlins are dramatically increasing payroll after being financially strapped at Sun Life Stadium, a stadium they shared with the Miami Dolphins.
"We've never been penny-pinchers, we never had the opportunity to do this in the old stadium," Loria said. "Now we look forward to a new era. It's a new page. I'm excited. There absolutely are no limits to try and see what can be done."
The Marlins certainly have been aggressive, setting up visits early in the process.
"They've seemed to have come down here right away," Loria said. "Miami is a magnet. The city. The manager [Ozzie Guillen]. The new ballpark. We have a terrific core here.
"We're looking at everyone, and we want to make this team as special as we can. And we would be foolish not to entertain the possibility of some of these players. It's just one of those things that means you're going forward. We had our hands tied for a long time, and with this new stadium, we want to step into a new light."